We’re living in a world where the demand for marketing services is high, but the results aren’t there. Mostly, it’s because of how we think and do marketing, but also because there are, because of the high demand, many companies and “professionals” that do things in a way that won’t bring desired results.
That’s why Funky Marketing has decided to start this weekly series of interviews with worldwide professionals doing marketing and business in a different way, the right way, with a bit of funk, and help the wider auditorium to get to know what great marketing is and how do we do it.
This week we’re talking with Kevin Belz, Co-owner and Operating Partner of Blacksmith Ventures, an investment company, that helps entrepreneurs and founders to grow and scale their products/businesses. Kevin is a great guy with a lot of experience in marketing, sales, operations and business development so we’re sure you’ll enjoy this interview! Let’s jump right in!
How to build a personal brand/reliable team/continuous quality/long-term satisfied client?
Relationships are the critical factor in building anything of value.
In my business (Assisting Entrepreneurs/Founders Vet & Launch) I am the one getting pitched.
Part of the discovery process isn’t just about the business they want to launch…. X’s and O’s. Instead, it’s about the core of who they are and what and where their passions lie.
My personal brand is that I go deep in relationships. For example, on LinkedIn, I love to meet people, watch them, (lurk) get to know them, get in touch, interact & comment! That is who I am – thus, part of my personal brand. When people get to know me and what we do they “get it” and when they meet someone who needs what we do, we get referrals. Again, that’s a relationship.
My personal brand is a conviction to show who I am. I talk about my faith and I share the difference it has made in my life and business.
A personal brand is people knowing I will not sugarcoat facts. If I see holes in their business I tactfully share that, after all, a hole can either be filled or ignored. Ignoring red flags = a disservice to a client. I am paid to Vet them and their business idea. Protecting them from themselves (most people convince themselves their idea is worth a gazillion dollars) is where courage comes in. Valuing relationships (other people) enables that to happen!
Of the hundreds of pitches, I have listened to I have done deep research on perhaps 20-25 because each one of these required 40-60-80 hours of research. And, out of the 25, Blacksmith Ventures has accepted 4 projects. I am happy to say that all 4 are either in the launch phase or conducting business. I believe that is due to relationships, open communication, plain talk, and founders who have the skill and passion to progress their idea into a launch!
I would note that all the founders we have assisted (from vetting to building to funding and launch) asked us to stay to assist them on their journey. That is what a relationship is. Built trust, shared understanding, caring, being available, and acting as an advocate.
In all the above-outlined processes unknowns become knowns, strangers become friends, ideas become businesses and I would not trade that feeling of accomplishment for any amount of money!
Let’s talk about processes. Give us an example to help us understand how you think about marketing campaigns with a specific example or examples.
I focus on LinkedIn so all my branding is done there as opposed to my business partner Andy Smith, who is on multiple platforms. So basically each one of my posts or comments is enabling people to see who I am, and what I do. To see my why, my what, and my how.
My marketing is about Blacksmith Ventures, the companies it holds, and the work we do alongside Entrepreneurs/Founders. I always try to show why we are good stewards of their projects and trust, the results we can produce, and the obstacles we have and will overcome.
We want them to clearly grasp we have experience and breadth of understanding. The customer needs to heart-know that we are not just seeing them as a “paycheck” (whether they win or lose) BUT that we are on their side advocating and advising. If we see red flags or warnings we hit the brakes and make the Founder walk thru the process of discovery and deduce if the obstacle is surmountable or a dagger.
My process for LinkedIn looks like this: I post on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I do NOTHING on LinkedIn during Weekends. That is family time. I comment each day of the week (except weekends) , reach out and follow people of interest (or just plain interesting people), and answer all DM’s and emails. The response is the first indicator to many people “can this person be trusted”. Simply being steady on responding and follow-thru speaks volumes.
Post content is varied. Some are about me, some about a company in our Holding Co. others about the holding co, some posts are expressly written to show what we do for the founder/Entrepreneur who needs help, and how we can assist with funding. I rotate content so people get a broad understanding of my thinking, who I am, what I stand for, my values, what we do, how we do it, and how we can help them. I focus on comments and new faces. All comments get a response. People need to know they matter!
Need help with your marketing campaign, strategy, or execution? Funky Marketing can help! From research to execution, we’ll help you get results. Check our pricing page to learn more.
What do you consider the next big step in your career? Why?
We now have launched projects. The old saying is we have “skin in the game” meaning we have shares of various companies. The next big steps are all the same (but in different venues). We are alongside the founders and assisting them to grow and scale successfully. We advise from up close, not from afar and the finger is on the pulse.
Having said that, all these projects (we have equity & shares from investing) coming to fruition will mean generated revenue. My Wife and I plan on restructuring our lives primarily around giving to others (caring for widows and orphans).
I cannot wait for the next chapter, should it come to happen!
Where are you studying today?
Studying to me is reading and meditating on:
- ZAG, M Neumeier
- The Prodigal God, T. Keller
- 4 days with Dr. Deming, Latzko
- The Goal, E Goldratt
- The Prayer of Jabez (reading for the 4th time), B. Wilkinson
- The Great Divorce, CS Lewis
What do you think, are we sharing enough knowledge? Why? And how is it impacting the way companies think of marketing today?
There is way too much sharing, and the problem is that it’s a giant echo chamber. One of the things that attracted me to following Funky was the different understanding, voice, clarity, and approach. NOT an echo chamber and I have learned piles.
The same can be said for people (not all marketers) like Zineb Layachi, Doug Lawson, Dragos Balasoiu, Andy Smith, Andy Kovacs, Jasna Puntar, and Itir Eraslan….(and many others). Their uniqueness and voices move me and recharge me! That is the essence of Marketing. Moving people from thought to consideration, and then to action.
What do you recommend to those who follow you? What is it that helped you to be where you are?
Work hard, seek true community, pray (so important), surround yourself with a TEAM of people who “get it” and do what they do without you having to push buttons! Lastly, show humility in desiring to learn something from everyone you meet! People are amazing… when we open our ears!
Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell the readers?
Ask me in 3 years if the plan we think we see in front of us today is the same path that materialized…. I love following the Dots, journeying without pushing to a destination, and letting God lead.
That’s it for today guys we hope you enjoyed getting to know Kevin Belz a bit better. If you want to see more interviews like this one make sure to check out our interviews page where you can find interviews with marketing and business professionals from all over the world. And if you want to learn more about marketing yourself, be sure to check our blog for more tips, tricks, and advice. Cheers!
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